Thursday, March 31, 2016

Edwin @ 2 years!

TODAY Edwin turns two :D


Edwin is just the handsomest little love.
He gives hugs constantly, and says "I love you" to EVERYTHING. The other day we were on the freeway and a semi-truck was driving next to us. We took an exit, and the truck kept going. Edwin waved and said, "Bye, truck! Lovvu!" (love you)

He enjoys yogurt (rogrit), bananas (banalalas), and basically everything I'm eating. He likes trucks, trains, airplanes, toy cars, legos, and knocking things over. He likes to climb, run at people or furniture and go "boom!" and roll around on everyone and everything.


He is a neat freak and always wants his hands washed. He doesn't like messy clothes, or messes in general. He is really good about picking up trash and helping me with the laundry, the dishwasher, and dinner.


Edwin enjoys going to story time at the library each week with me, Gram, and Kate.

showing Gram where to go :)

He doesn't like to sit on the rug with all the other kids, but he always wants his hand stamped, and he will sit on my lap until craft time. This picture below was from the week that we read stories about mice, and the kids got to make little mouse hats:



Edwin is much more imaginative at this age than Kate was. He will tell me that he is going to work, and when I ask where he works he says, "School!" I say, "What do you do at school?" and he says, "Teacher!" and then says, "Bye, mommy! Lovvu! Go school!" (I love you! I'm going to school!)

He also loves "cooking" in his play kitchen and tells me he is making waffles for me all the time :)

Don't be fooled, though. He still has his rough days:


Edwin's speech has been excellent the last couple of months. He can form great little sentences and communicate clearly what he wants. He knows all of our names, and can count to three. Edwin knows some of his alphabet and most of his colors, but I'm not in a rush. :) He picks up a lot from Kate.

Edwin is down to one nap a day, just mid-morning at 11am. He still sucks his thumb when he is really tired, and his blanket MUST be with him at every bedtime.


Lately Edwin has mixed up our nighttime routine by insisting that we sing, "I love to see the Temple" before prayers. He calls it, "Temple Song". He tries to sing along with me (which Kate never does, as she is typically just more of an observer), and it just melts my heart when he knows the next words coming up. I especially love the line that says, "I'll prepare myself while I am young" and Edwin says loudly, "YUM!" hahaha. Sometimes we just sing one verse, and sometimes Edwin asks for two. But always at the end he will quietly say, "yaaaay!" and then fold his arms for prayers.

Edwin does look for the temple whenever we drive up to the school. Since our temple is on a hill next to campus, he will point it out when we drive by. "Dere it is! Hi temple! Lovvu!"

My favorite things about Edwin are his soft baby cheeks and his little toddler tummy. He has the biggest blue eyes, and still wants to snuggle me and be held as much as possible.


He is very steady on his feet, although the clumsiest little kid. He can run around and jump a little, but he never watches where he is going and so he trips and gets bruises on his head quite often. I love that he still has so many baby features, but I'm sure that by the time he is 3 next year, he will slim out and grow up quite a bit. It's exciting, but also makes me sad. I wish he could stay small and snuggly forever!

The best part of Edwin's personality is his LAUGH. He giggles madly at Kate and Margo more than anything. No one can get him laughing as hard as Kate can. I just love his crazy inhaling giggly laugh! I was able to catch him on video the other day laying down in the kitchen and laughing while he watched Margo eat:

video


To celebrate this little man's birthday today we had Gram (my mom) and our good friends Scott and Jordan over for cake and presents :)


Yeah, I have no idea what's up with Kate's "lobster claws"

It was really low-key with just popcorn, chips, cake, and ice cream. We did a little airplane/cloud theme.


Jon made the model plane to go on top of Edwin's cake, and I made his birthday vest with airplane fabric.





Edwin made out like a bandit with his birthday gift haul!


We are so grateful to all the friends and family who brought and sent gifts our way. Edwin was a pro at tearing all the paper off the presents. He was obsessed with the Larabars from the O'Keefe's,


and his new church shoes from Grandpa had to be worn immediately!


Jon and I gave Edwin his very own mini Book of Mormon with his name printed on the front.

He seriously would not let go of his Larabars.
The hardest part of the day was that he woke up from a nap about 30 seconds before his little party, so it took him a while to warm up to the idea of pictures. Or people. Or clothes. I don't think he was really sure of what was happening when we turned out the lights and sang Happy Birthday!

*no airplanes were harmed in the making of this picture.

After cake, I wanted to take the kids outside for a few pictures and to blow bubbles, because it looked like a nice partially-cloudy day! Wrong. I forgot we are in Rexburg, I guess, because it was deceptively FREEZING and windy. We were outside for about a minute and a half before the kids (and especially me!) gave up and came back inside where it was warm :) In that minute and a half, though, the kids RAN around in circles on the grass, and I was so glad I snapped this picture. To me, this perfectly sums up their relationship:


We were also able to get a family picture :D

Thanks, Jordan!

The best part of the day was just watching Edwin be happy and seeing our family playing together.

I asked Edwin to say "cheese" and this is what I got ;)





Kate gets more and more goofy everyday :) Just today she started striking a pose every time she knew that the camera was on her.

Legos!
 



At the end of the day we had waffles for dinner (at Edwin's request) along with some country style hash browns and a mushroom egg scramble. Then we did Edwin's hand and footprints,


and watched The Weekenders (also at Edwin's request) before going to bed.

Happy 2nd Birthday, little man! We sure do love you lots and lots. :)



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Katherine: 3 years 8 months

I don't seem to keep up with milestones for Kate as well as I used to. It turns out that once your child is 3, saying repeatedly that they, "got more sassy today" just isn't as exciting as when they are under 2 and take first steps, discover new foods, and try adventurous things every month ;)

love those honey-brown eyes and rosy cheeks!

Even still I find myself taking note on a weekly basis of all the great things Kate can do, and what a sweet little lady she is growing into. She is a mini-mom and loves to take care of children smaller than her. She is always reminding Edwin that it's time to brush our teeth, or lay down for naps. It hit me this week that Kate will be 5 next Summer, and therefore starting kindergarten in the Fall of 2017... I am not ready.

In the meantime, Kate has been attending "little school" at BYU-Idaho this semester.

first day of school! she was too distracted to look at me. haha!

She loves the preschool lab! The child development and early childhood education majors get hands-on experience working with children ages 3-5 and in turn there is research conducted and observation booths where faculty, parents, and students can watch for behavior and interaction with the children. All the while the kids get to learn and play, getting an introductory school experience. Win/win!

This week they sent home some developmental information for us on Katherine, including how she recognizes all her letters, is starting to sound out words, and knows her shapes and colors with 100% accuracy. She also can put small puzzles together by herself, and enjoys creative art like coloring and painting (which we definitely already knew!) Kate also loves to read, and has a desire to read a book every day in class, whether the teachers read to her, or she reads to herself. One of my favorite parts of the letter was when they said that Kate is "so nice to everyone in the classroom and is willing to lend a helping hand whenever it is needed." :) It made me and Jon really happy to hear, since she is often more of an observer and quiet in new situations.

As part of little school, Kate was able to bring home her very own goldfish last week when they had a unit about animals. She named him Horse. :D

Can you see how excited she is??

See the horse sticker that Kate put on his take-home jar? Seemed appropriate.

We picked out an aquarium and some food for Horse, and I learned ALL about the proper care of goldfish. Together we learned how to rinse his new environment, condition the water, and the kids helped us move Horse into his new tank after 24 hours. Who knew that goldfish were so much work??


"Wish I could be... part of that WORLD..."

Horse is now happily swimming in his mini-aquarium, and Kate helps me feed him every day at lunch time. He's been a great addition to the family, and a lovely decorative addition to our bookshelf ;)

Occasionally I get a glimpse back at those baby days, when Kate would sleep with her hands up by her face.



Kate is silly, sweet, sassy, and charming. :)

new swimsuit!


SUCH a Kate face!
Being almost 4 is an interesting transition between toddler cuteness and big-girl status. Some days I look at her and it seems there is no trace of babyness left at all. Then other days she just wants to hug me and be wrapped in blankets, and she is STILL not potty trained, so changing diapers definitely helps keep me grounded in baby-care mode. ;)

Some of the most entertaining things that Kate has said lately are that she told me she wants a train on her cake for her 15th birthday. So this is definitely happening. Also, she recently called Edwin her "little tiger" and while Jon was at work asked, "Where is my big daddy boy??" haha!


Kate has also started telling me about her dreams. On February 26th she said she dreamt about doors. It's been really exciting to see how much more interactive she is getting at preschool and at library story time each week. She sings songs around the house like "If you're happy and you know it" and regularly requests that we sing "ring around the rosy" :) It makes my mama heart so happy when I see her join in the song time at the library, or share with friends at school. I asked her the other day what her favorite part of school has been, and she said, "Playing and reading with my teachers." :) She also told me her favorite friend at school is Avery.

For the rest of this Spring and into the Summer we are looking into gymnastics or dance, and swim lessons for Kate so that she can start to find new interests. I can't wait to see how she learns and grows heading into turning 4 this August!

I love seeing her friendship with Edwin grow, and that every time someone comes over to our house she says, "This is my friend, Margo!" Kate always asks for mac and cheese or spaghetti and meatballs, and of course strawberries with every meal. ;) She loves the movie Dumbo, and is obsessed with Daniel Tiger. There are so many other little things that I could share about Kate: how she loves wearing necklaces and asks to have earrings (which we told her she can decide on when she is 8), how she has never ever had her hair cut, how she insists on wearing pretty skirts and dresses as much as possible, and how she loves to have Edwin dance with her in the living room. She always asks to help me make dinner, and thinks play-doh is the best toy ever, she loves books and always asks us to read her a book after prayers at night. Kate tests my patience majorly, but she also teaches me so much. Our life is better with her in it!

We are so glad to have Miss Kate in our forever family. :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Easter Sunday

Our Easter Sunday was cold and rainy. As such, I didn't get a cute-outdoors-springtime family mini photo session like I had pictured in my mind. I just wanted to get some cute shots of the kids in their new Easter outfits that Jon and I made for them, maybe even with their Easter baskets. Instead, we set up the tripod in our living room after church, and it was perfect!! Curls were falling, kids were worn out from nursery, and still everyone looked at the camera and smiled. I don't think it could have turned out any better!








































I didn't decorate the house or get a Spring wreath. I kind of thought I would have time to make a garland, but it didn't happen, and that's ok! Instead I was able to make breakfast for our family and spend the morning with them and serving in my ward calling as part of the Relief Society presidency. :) It was perfect.

I didn't post anything on social media about Easter morning, (except for a quick look at our bunny pancakes with "carrot" strawberries)
























and I didn't ever decide on the right words for talking about the Savior's loving atonement and sacrifice for us, like I had thought I would. Instead, I had the most spiritual Easter Sunday during all three hours at church that I've probably ever had. The talks were wonderful, I sang in the choir, and our Sunday School lessons were perfect. It was uplifting and touching, and exactly what Easter should be about. :) It was holy.

I did get a couple pictures of Kate's hair and dress right before church as she was showing off her chocolate egg:

hair clips and curls by Steph







































dress 100% handmade by Jon








































With the help of friends and family, Jon and I were able to put together great Easter baskets for the kids!























I even stuck our new family Easter book, and some Easter books from Nonna and Papa in with Jon's basket ;) He got two Easter eggs: a Cadbury one, and a Lindt one (that seemed more "grown up" haha)







































The kids got wonderful little Easter baskets in nursery too with play-doh and CTR rings!

During the day we made popovers, resurrection rolls, had a family lesson on the atonement, and watched this adorable video of Claire Ryann singing Gethsemane. The kids were mesmerized!
Jon and Kate were able to skype with Nonna and Papa while Edwin napped, and we ALMOST forgot to start Easter dinner in the crockpot, but thanks to some fast action by Jon, it got done and we were nearly still on time for church!

I didn't get any pictures of our dinner, but we shared it with my mom and some friends. Everyone brought food, and it was busy, and talkative, and happy!

The kids told me they had a GREAT Easter, and it was probably one of my most favorites of all time. We didn't go see the Easter bunny, we didn't have an egg hunt, we didn't get "professional" level pictures of our entire day, and I wasn't even worried. To be honest, I'm not always that great at keeping up with Instagram and Facebook posts anyway. :) It's been joyful to spend the time with my family, and not worry about anyone's expectations except my Heavenly Father's. We had a holy day of worship, and I even got to see some friends who just had their first baby, and hold their 3 day old daughter. Score.

That is what Easter is all about. The love that our Savior had for us, to suffer and die, and the celebration of his resurrection on the third day, overcoming death and allowing us all to have the same blessing of resurrection after death, and live again with our families forever!







































All of my personal and societal expectations aside, Easter was amazing. All of those other things I thought I would get done didn't even matter. I'm so glad that Easter Sunday got the true attention and focus from our family that it deserves. :) Just like Christmas, it is not about the "things" or keeping up appearances, but it is about the true dedication of the day to Jesus Christ. It is the most holy of holidays, and should be celebrated always! Because of Him, we can have eternal life, and all things are possible. That is the message that I hope Kate and Edwin took away from Easter this year. I know I did.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

14,474

That's a lot of miles.

In fact, it's the added up total estimate for our Year of America road trip. With all our specific stops and sight-seeing interests, 14,474 is the distance in miles that it will *roughly* take us to travel in a big circle through all 48 continental United States.

I crunched the numbers officially this week. Take that number and figure out the cost of gas, plus lodging, plus food, plus incidental expenses, car maintenance, also paying ahead on our rent for while we are gone, and having a buffer for emergencies (not to mention our inevitable desire for souvenirs and the occasional novelty food that is famous in a particular state here or there...) and you've got a BIG undertaking.

SO big, that it's too much for our little family to handle entirely right now.

We knew going into this plan that it might be way over our heads. But we went for it anyway! I don't regret at all hoping that we could make it. I thought that MAYBE if we stretched we could make a big chunk of savings by the Summer, but it looks like the numbers are a little more grand than my imagination supposed. :)

That being said, we are happy to announce a modification to our trip! We are going to complete the first couple weeks of the original plan, and cut the loop down to 7 States on the West Coast.

New road trip map! Roughly.







































I know that is 41 states less than our original plan, but we're going to save our goal of seeing the Midwest, East Coast, and Southern States for another time. We are pretty bummed about the friends and family that we will be missing, as well as all the National Parks and landmarks that we will have to wait on, but ultimately, this modified version is going to rock, and we're still super excited!

The main point of this trip was to see America. And we will still be doing that.
We wanted to go and see places that we had never been. And we will still be doing that!
Most of all, we wanted family togetherness, bonding, and building a tradition of travel and exploration. And we will still be doing that. :)

With our new plan, we will:
A) be spreading out our stops to see MORE of the parks and friends and family that we were already going to be hopping between,
B) have the ability to travel comfortably and explore WELL within our budget, and
C) we will easily be pulling off this trip completely debt-free while not breaking the bank for the time we are gone.

The New Route
Start: Rexburg ID
Craters of the Moon National Park, ID
Lehi, UT
Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Flagstaff, AZ
Sedona National Park, AZ
Mesa, AZ
Las Vegas, NV
Hoover Dam, NV
Bakersfield, CA
Clovis/Fresno, CA
Sequoia National Park, CA
San Francisco/Oakland, CA
Loomis/Sacramento, CA
Humboldt Redwoods State Park, CA
Portland, OR
Yelm/Seattle, WA
Coeur d'Alene, ID
and back to Rexburg, ID!
(I highlighted all of the stops that either Jon or I --or both of us-- have never been before!)

This whole major road trip has been such a learning process. It's also been great practice for our family to work on setting realistic goals (ha!) and working together toward a savings plan. :)

The new 7-State Loop has some awesome features, and best of all it is full of some of our most favorite people! Ultimately, it's going to be a couple weeks, instead of 6. It's going to be a mix of camping and sleepovers with friends. It's going to be one of the craziest family vacations we've ever done.

It's going to be awesome. :)